Why Boxing Has a Problem If Adrien Broner Is the Sport's Future

Jonathan SnowdenCombat Sports Senior WriterDecember 12, 2013

Jun 22, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Adrien Broner (Gold trunks) and Paulie Malignaggi (White trunks) trade punches during their 12 round WBA welterweight championship bout at the Barclay's Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Two attractive girls?

That, in itself, is nothing unusual in the world of sport. The NFL has cheerleaders, scantily clad even in winter months, giving us T's, E's, A's and M's. The NBA has dance teams and cheerleaders—often in the same building.

MMA does them both one better. Dana White has athletes on his roster who could double as pin-up models. That's progressive thinking.

Boxing hasn't quite gotten there, despite the best efforts of the Laila Ali's and Holly Holm's of the world. But in boxing, almost every press conference, and certainly every fight, features a bevy of beautiful and buxom women, either standing aimlessly on the stage with frozen smiles carefully in place or walking around the ring to inform people what round it is. 

Adrien Broner, as is his way, has taken the paradigm and, more than shifted it, smacked it in the face and made it his own. The talented welterweight's latest viral video, all of 54 seconds in length, featured two beautiful girlsdescribed as "bi-racial" dancers—having unprotected sex with him. 

Drake was playing in the background. It was as awkward as it sounds.

"I'm young and I'm having fun," Broner said, by way of explanation. "I want to apologize to everyone out there. I didn't leak it."

Disclaimer asideand everyone who leaks a sex tape has the same sneering denialBroner seems willing to do just about anything to fast track his ticket to the top of the entertainment world. He's seen how being outrageous has rewarded mentor Floyd Mayweather. Now nearing his prime, Broner appears to think it's his turn to bask in the limelight.

Johnny Walker at Boxing Insider wasn't impressed:

Broner’s cries for attention through acts like these (he has another video where he flushes money down a toilet) seem to be getting increasingly desperate. It’s like boxing professionally at a high level is not enough for him; he has a narcissistic need to be the center of attention as often as possible, even when he’s not in a boxing ring.

In his last fight, Broner and Paulie Malignaggi engaged in a bitter feud that bordered on filthy. That drew headlines but not the lasting attention that Broner apparently craves. The sex tape takes it to another level. If sports fans hadn't heard of Broner before, they have now. There's nothing like an old-fashioned sex scandal to bring someone on the fringes of celebrity into the public eye.

But questions remain about what will follow. While Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have both ridden a sex tape to long-term infamy, others, like Rob Lowe and Pamela Anderson, have moved on with their lives.

Which camp will Broner fall in? As his fame grows, will his appetite for transgressive antics increase in equal measure? That potential escalation concerns Boxing News 24's Paul Walsh:

Broner may not be to everyone’s liking but one thing you cannot argue is that he is an excellent boxer. However, the question still remains- “Is he good for boxing?” This used to be an easy question for me to answer but now I am not too sure. As his career progresses and his bank balance improves I can only see his behavior becoming more distasteful and disrespectful. I for one do not want Boxing to be seen in that light. Yes, he does generate interest in the sport but for all the wrong reasons. 

Showtime boss Stephen Espinoza seems willing to take the good with the bad when it comes to Broner. So too Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who values Broner's ability to take boxing into the social media sphere and places like WorldStarHipHop.com, where the stodgy sport might otherwise never appear.

"Adrien Broner is maybe more like a Floyd Mayweather," Schaefer said to Bleacher Report. "Very outspoken and brash, with the money and the hip-hop thing as well. A great self promoter who knows how to do social media."


That Broner knows how to "do social media" can't really be argued at this point. Between this sex tape and the infamous video of him (NSFW) at a Popeyes Chicken pretending he's “sh*tting out money,” Broner has shown he knows how to get attention. 

Is that a good thing? He seems to think so.

"My career is going to the rooftop. It’s going to skyrocket. But this is just the beginning. It starts here," Broner said at a pre-fight press conference. "Every boxer wants to be where I am right now. I am the person who is going to take over boxing after Floyd Mayweather. Everybody wants this position."

But in pursuit of stardom, Broner, still just 24 years old, is creating a lasting image of himself. These antics will never be erased from his permanent record. The Internet doesn't allow it. And while this may be his attempt to replace Mayweather as boxing's pre-eminent villain, there's danger in taking things too far. 

People love Mayweather and love to hate him, because his over-the-top persona is clearly an act. It's a gimmick, even if grounded in truth. We know he's putting on, and he knows that we know he's putting on. It's reality television with a wink and a nod, an agreement between performer and audience to suspend disbelief and live on planet Mayweather for a time.

That's the clear difference between Mayweather and Broner. We want to go and visit Mayweather in his garage and look at a row of gleaming white luxury cars. We want to hear Mayweather talk about how he's the best. He's earned that right.

But who really wants to go with Adrien Broner into a Popeyes bathroom? Who wants to be in the room while he has sex? Despite being the top prospect in boxing and perhaps the next man to carry the sport on his back, Broner's lifestyle isn't aspirational. It's a little bit awful.

And that's not good for Broner—or boxing.